For many people, Budgets are when you find out if your pint of beer or bottle of wine is going up in price. It’s the day you fill up your car just in case fuel goes up again. It’s the day you hope to see a tax cut that puts some more cash in your pocket or helps your business grow. Generally it’s a day the average person lives in hope and prepares to be disappointed. That’s the nature of Budget day.
This year is different. They say that this Budget will be highly political. If so, as soon as the doors open, the Commons’ corridors will be buzzing with people feverishly trying to unpack each policy and reverse engineer it. Who was it aimed at? What reaction is it designed to elicit, and from whom? Is it aimed at Labour – giving them no option but to disagree, at their own expense? Is it backbenchers from all parties who, according to many, are just waiting for the right moment to cause trouble? Is it just the start of the beginning of a very long election campaign? Is it for ‘Middle England’, ‘The Tory Right’, ‘Hard-working Families’, ‘The Squeezed Middle’ or any other political cliché you can think of?
One thing is for sure it will be full of ‘Tough Decisions’ with the odd ‘Plan A/B/C’ thrown in for good measure. But if it’s a political budget, will they be the sensible decisions; the bold, clear choices; the right Plan for our future? And that’s the issue. I think we need to be careful that we don’t get too clever – or, in other words, too political. We need to avoid all the clichés including ‘Playing Politics’.
Before becoming an MP I founded and operated a number of successful, fast-growing high-tech businesses. No surprise then that, as an MP, I’ve been pushing for policies that encourage economic growth for a number of years. In fact, I push so hard and so continuously that it’s got to the point where even I think I’m a stuck record. If it was up to me we would be much more agile, bolder, and take more considered risks to encourage wealth creators, entrepreneurs, businesses and inward investment. We would already have implemented more policies that help businesses create jobs and wealth, and helped them to help us solve our own economic problems. But I’m not in charge.
On Wednesday I will be sitting in the Chamber alongside my colleagues. I will be hoping to hear that we’re going to build on the good things we done so far and now we’re going to focus totally on growth. If this is a political budget, I hope I’m the target audience. I hope I’m going to be happy. I hope I’m going to say: ‘Oh great! That’s brilliant!’ But, you know, I’m also prepared to be disappointed. I’m a realist. I understand the challenges.
So, for me, even though I’m an MP, it’s not so different this year. In fact, it’s pretty much the same for me as for everyone else on every other budget day – I live in genuine hope but I am prepared for bitter disappointment.
Adam Afriyie is the Conservative MP for Windsor.
Join us after Osborne delivers his Budget to discuss ‘Whatever happened to the recovery?’ Andrew Neil, Fraser Nelson and James Forsyth will discuss what the 2013 Budget means for Britain’s economic future on 20 March. Click here to book tickets.Tags: Adam Afriyie, Budget 2013, George Osborne, UK politics